What is the best way to reach 45,000 young people and communicate the benefits of solar power (especially when you have a limited budget)?
Instead of making a traditional and stuffy presentation on renewable energy in a classroom, we wanted to promote green, renewable energy in a way that is fun for young people.
So this August, Robert Pašičko and I, two young electrical engineers from the UNDP green team, took part in the 2nd annual Terraneo music festival in Šibenik, Croatia. Bands at the festival included “The Roots,” “Thievery Corporation,” “The Ting Tings,” “Groove Armada,” “The Vaccines” and attracted 45,000 visitors in four days.
Besides an exciting music programme, Terraneo runs an ecological action and education programme (Eco-Actions, Eco-Art and Eco-Smart programmes) with workshops, lectures, exhibits and performances related to sustainable development.
The festival won the “DM Green City” award for corporate achievement in promoting environmental protection and the first prize in the “Grand Prix” among all award-winning environmentally responsible Croatian organizations.
Concert goers could learn about solar energy, as well as different types of renewable energy, and even test-drive Croatia’s only solar-powered car and bicycle, or charge their phones with solar solar-powered DC and AC system.
We borrowed the solar powered gadgets from the Solar Education Center (Solarni edukacijski centar) and Vocational School Vice Vlatković (Strukovna škola Vice Vlatkovića) in Zadar.
UNDP supported Zadar County to set up both the centre and the new education module for solar installers at the School. The solar centre is the first in Croatia to offer training for people who want to learn how to install solar powered systems – a 130 hour course gets you licensed. So far, 75 people are licensed solar installers. The centre also has solar equipment on display and provides advice to interested citizens.
Interest in the course is larger than the Centre can provide, and comes from all over Croatia. That’s why we’re working with other cities and counties to set up similar education centres. The next one will open in Varaždin (stay tuned for updates!)
We wanted to reach out to young people – 38 percent of young people in Croatia are unemployed – and let them know this is an industry with significant potential for jobs. Just to illustrate, Austria, which has only two thirds of Croatia’s sunshine, uses 20 times more solar power than Croatia.
Our solar booth was right at the entrance of the festival and got a lot of interest from concert goers. In addition to talking to people about renewable energy, we also sang songs about it, changing the lyrics of Sunshine Reggae and other favorites. Visitors could learn about solar energy through music and take an instrument and join in.
What are some other fun ways to promote solar energy, or renewable energy?